who we are...
The Women’s Program Association (WPA) is one of the longest standing organizations serving women in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon. Since its inception, the association has shattered social boundaries through innovation and fearlessness, and has redefined the scope of possibilities for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.
WPA was first established in Beirut, 1953, when the United Nations Relief and Work Agency in the Near East (UNRWA) set up activity centers to support Palestinian women in Lebanese refugee camps. The project, originally registered as the Women Program Centers (WPC), grew to include nine centers across Lebanon within a short span of forty years, providing women access to education, vocational trainings, and other crucial resources. Once the centers began to flourish, the association adapted its strategy to become a series of independent, volunteer-based centers managed by administrative commissions elected by the local community every three years.
WPA was officially registered as a Lebanese non-governmental organization in 2008, and has extended its activities considerably since then. With Al Fanar’s support, WPA launched Soufra in 2013 - a catering line that allows Palestinian women to remember and explore their culture through food, while also generating income. Soufra made Lebanese history by being the first all-women, refugee-led organization to obtain a food-truck license in Lebanon. The food truck creates work opportunities that extend well outside of the camps, breaking social boundaries in Lebanon in engaging and creative ways. WPA has also launched a micro-loans project, which enables and encourages community members to launch their own businesses within the camps.
Today the NGO operates across nine out of twelve Palestinian refugee camps, providing education, professional trainings, leadership skills, and unwavering support to women and youth.